Key Online Search Strategies To Get New Clients
Some of the most recent data shows that about 85% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses (like local law firms). This makes online search an extremely important marketing tool for lawyers looking to attract potential clients. Search engine optimization or SEO is part technical configuration, part marketing and part understanding who your audience is.
Part I: Keyword Awareness
Keywords are still the foundation of promoting a website in search. Lawyers should be aware of what keywords searchers are using to find their services and what topics are associated with those phrases. For example, if you’re an auto accident attorney you might have pages targeting terms related to insured motorists, underinsured motorists and/or distracted driving in addition to a an auto accident page.
The content on your website should be organized under a main umbrella or theme. Think of all the practice areas that your firm covers and then fit them under a central theme on your home page. Sub-pages or practice areas can then branch out from that main idea.
For example, an auto accident attorney might deal with accidents involving many different forms of conveyance other than traditional cars. By contrast, searchers looking for an attorney that specializes in automobile related accidents may not be using phrases that include automobiles. So the main theme of a site could be auto accidents (there could also be a page for that) and there could also be a page for truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and/or recreational vehicle accidents.
By doing this, lawyers not only organize their content in a logical fashion enabling the site to perform better in search but they also cast a wider net. People use phrases related to their specific situation. So even though they may have been driving a semi-truck and gotten in an accident, they don’t realize that an auto accident attorney could potentially help them nor are they using that term to find a lawyer. They will use phrases like “truck accident attorney” or “semi-truck accident lawyer.” In other words, if you only focus on the broad phrases of your practice area you could be missing out on other relevant traffic.
Tightly Themed Pages
Each page of your site should be about a specific topic. When search engines look for a document (a page) to serve to a searcher, they look for the most relevant page related to the query (among many other factors). If a searcher uses the phrase “truck accident attorney Utah” and a page has more than just that topic on it, the engine may be more likely to serve something else that is more consistent overall.
Avoid writing about multiple topics on a single page. Keep the content focused on whatever the target phrase is.
Part II: Optimizing your Google Plus Local Page
Google Plus Local Pages (formerly Google Places Pages) are a quick and impactful way for local business like law firms to get exposure in search. Google has a compelling interest in serving highly useful and relevant results for their users. An extension of that initiative is local business listings that users can fill out for free.
It’s important to fill out a listing because you can potentially capture traffic that you might have otherwise missed. For example, if you aren’t showing on the first page of search results for particular keyword phrases, your Google Plus Local Page might be.
Optimizing your Profile
In order to get the most out of your Google Plus Local page, you should make sure the profile is optimized.
- Fill our your profile completely including adding a category for your practice area, adding business hours, forms of payment, phone numbers, images, links to your website, etc.
- Try and get reviews on your page. Be sure and follow your region’s rules for getting reviews on your page. If you can populate your page with reviews, it will rank far better.
Directories and Citations
In addition to your Google Plus Local page, attorneys should also be listed in directories and local business listing aggregators. Both of these have a significant importance for local search.
Local directories are a good source of traffic and links to your website. Link signals from local sources can be far more powerful when it comes to local searchers than other types of links. Directories are also what is known as low-hanging fruit. This means that it is much easier to get a link on these websites than if you were to reach out to website owners to get a link. If you aren’t sure where to get started, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best free and paid directories to be listed on.
Not only should you look for local directories but they should also be attorney specific directories.
A citation is simply a mention of your law firm and its location on another website. The benefit of having multiple, consistent local listings is that you have more chances to appear in search both for your brand name as well as other keyword phrases. These can also be another source of links for your site.
A great way to get consistent business information out on the web with minimal effort is to use a service like Moz Local. For 49 dollars, Moz will take your business information and distribute it to the major data aggregators.
Part III: Blogging About Practice-Related Topics
Blogging can provide a lot of benefits for a brand online. It can help position your firm as an authority in its practice area. It can provide opportunities to rank for a broader array of search terms, promote organic linking and ensure that your site is crawled more often.
Blog About What You Want To Sell
Don’t take that headline literally. Your blog content should be as far from a sales pitch as possible and it should focus on providing clear and useful information to your buyer persona (i.e. your ideal client). You can of course insert calls to action in your blog posts for your services however the content itself should not be self-promotional in nature.
Write about answers to questions that your target market might have. For example, if you are a personal injury attorney you might write about what a person should do if they think they have a personal injury claim. If you specialize in auto accident cases, you might write about what a person should do in the event of an auto accident like who they should contact, what they should document and/or what their legal options are.
The conventional wisdom is that if you write useful information, other websites will link to it. By encouraging people to comment on your blog, you promote engagement from your target market. Google loves new content so if you blog on a weekly basis, you’ll ensure that your site is crawled much more often than it otherwise would be.
Building links to your site is still a crucial part of performing well in search. If you have ever researched the topic, you have probably seen no shortage of articles, posts, forums and other sources of information related to link building. The thing you have to remember above all else is that it’s best to attract natural links to your website.
For instance you should never:
- Purchase links
- Participate in link exchanges
- Accept links from sites whose only business model is to link to other websites
- Submit links to your site on questionable websites
- Make awesome content like informative blog posts, infographics, accident maps and other content that promote natural link building
- Collaborate with colleagues, local organizations, educational institutions and others for links
- Be active on social media channels
- Build citations and submit your site to reputable directories
- Be active on industry relevant legal forums
If you’re considering a back link, ask yourself these questions. Is the site updated? Is it curated? Does it look spammy? Are my competitors listed there? Each time you build a link to your site, you are (in essence) opening up to potential risk. Make sure that the links you are building are from high-quality and reputable websites.